Movie critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have given Mel Gibson's "Passion" two thumbs up:
Sounding very much like the Pope in his widely reported reaction to the film (“It is as it was.”), Ebert said, “It's the only religious movie I've seen, with the exception of 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' by Pasolini, that really seems to deal with what actually happened.”
Roeper echoed Ebert’s words of praise, saying, “This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film.” He added that “Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and this is the work of his lifetime. You have to admire not just Gibson for his vision and his directing abilities, but Jim Caviezel [who plays Christ] and the rest of the cast.”
And what about the charges of anti-semitism?
Ebert said, “I hope people will see this movie for themselves and then judge. I don't think the movie is anti-Semitic. Christ was born as a Jew, his disciples were Jewish. Yes, some Jewish priests call for his death. They're threatened by his assault on their establishment. Institutions protect their power structures. Most of the Jews in this movie are horrified by what they see.”
And Roeper pointed out that the movie “does not blame all Jews past and present for the death of Jesus and no matter what your faith, it should not be shaken or threatened by a movie, even one as intense and personal as this one.”
I must admit, I truly expected at least Ebert to torpedo the movie. It says much for the quality of the film that he does not.